In aeronautics, gas turbine engines need the assistance of systems that have to guarantee performance throughout the whole flight envelope of the aircrafts for which they are designed. One of these systems is the lubrication system and its role is twofold: firstly to remove the heat generated in the highly loaded rolling bearings and the gears found in the power and accessory gearboxes via heat exchangers; secondly to lubricate these parts.

The current trend of developing aircraft turbine engines that consume less fuel increases the cooling requirements from the lubrication systems due to higher speeds, loads and temperatures in engines as well as the integration of high-power gearboxes (allowing high by-pass ratio) and high-power starter-generators. For manufacturers there is significant pressure for developing new lubrication system architectures that are able to meet the new cooling and lubricating requirements without negatively impacting the mass of the systems or the operational and maintenance costs of engines.

Current lubrication systems in turbine engines are based on architectures and technologies that have not significantly evolved over the last thirty years. Despite improvements and advances made on components of these systems, the technological limit is being reached. In other words, new technologies are required to face the challenge of the future engine requirements (higher cooling, higher thermal efficiency, lower Specific Fuel Consumption (SFC) impact, unchanged high-level of reliability, improved mass).

Project ELUBSYS, financed by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme, will remove this barrier by designing and validating innovative technologies and architectures for the lubrication systems with the view of increasing their efficiency, reducing their cost and, more importantly, reducing engine SFC.

The main focus for ELUBSYS will be around new seal technologies (brush seals) that bear the promise of improving the engine propulsive efficiency by reducing the bleed air losses and demonstrate the capability to withstand the harsh environment of aero engines. The proposed work for the project will encompass: the investigation of the performance and endurance of brush seals (WP1); an assessment of the overall impact and opportunities offered by the introduction of high performance seals on the thermal efficiency of the lubrication systems (WP2), the architecture of external components to these systems (WP3) and the oil quality (WP4). The overall assessment of the integration of every single improvement will be performed thanks to a global 0D model. This model will allow correcting the project course at mid-term through a first evaluation of achievements.


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